Michael Peter Smith, Songwriter

“I did care and I still DO care about messing around with songwriting. I’ll do this all my life and see what turns out. I’m writing for myself…I’ll choose to be happy…I’m not ready to shut this factory down.”

NEWS! Spring 2018 Michael’s CD “SONGWRITING”.  

Read more here: http://www.jamieoreilly.com/smith-songwriting-cd-mail/

Michael talks…
Part Master class. Part musical memoir.
All Michael!  The long awaited recording!
Singer/songwriter Michael P. Smith reveals the inner workings of his songwriting process, tells stories: from first song and first guitar, to the inspiration for (and secret source) of his best known song The Dutchman, and performs this, and other songs, with distinctive Smithesque style. This winning recording offers a glimpse of this singular artist’s musical landscape, confirming why he remains a master in the American folk lexicon, revered the world over.

You WANT to hear this. Listen to a sample.
Making Up Songs

Michael in Rockport, MassMichael Smith’s website has his touring dates at michaelpetersmith.com
You can also get his current schedule and updates on this site on the BLOG.
Michael’s Songwriting Workshops: read more

Booking Policy.  Jamie O’Reilly requires a deposit, as well as a guarantee, to secure a date for Michael Smith to perform. Deposit can be made by credit card via PayPal, check or cash.  The amount is based on the lead time and % to the artist. Read about Jamie’s services here on the artist services page.

“Michael Smith stands out as one of the few undisputed geniuses among singer-songwriters.” (Sing Out! Magazine)

“Michael Smith, a truly remarkable songwriter, teaches his craft to a roomful of students at a
songwriting works
hop in The Studios at SPACE. After the class, he performed his gorgeous, intricate, and often hilarious songs to a sold out crowd. An incredible night with this gifted musician!”  (-Evanston S.P.A.C.E. photo by Kelly)

Performances & touring schedule
Bio (scroll down)
Michael’s Michael_Workshop_Flyer_(Edited)
Promo flyer:  MichaelPeterSmith-flyer-7
Library recommendation letter: Michael Smith Recommendation
Website: michaelpetersmith.com.
Jamie O’Reilly, booking & promo consultant
jamie@jamieoreilly.com; 773-203-7661
Contact us for bookings: mps_bookings@jamieoreilly.com


Here’s what Mr. Chuang-Tzu has to say about home towns
If your life is true you don’t have to go far

To find heaven and earth on the rim of your doorway

To have ocean and sky everywhere that you are


Wherever you go
Whatever you do
He stays in your head…



Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee
Long ago I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me

Wherever he is touring concert venues, clubs, theaters, folk festivals,
at house concerts, and teaching writing workshops. In powerful songs, award-winning musical scores, and unforgettable recordings – musical mastery is in whatever he does.

Sister Clarissa could have been on the stage
But Jesus came over and told her
He’d rather she taught the fifth grade

You’ve seen Michael perform, or heard him speak, you know what stands out about him. If you haven’t – book him now.

There are some ways I’m just like him
Some ways he was just like me
And sometimes when the mirror’s dim
His face is clear to see

Master of the Story Song

Michael Smith is a master of the story song and the character sketch, invoking a Carver-like economy at the one end and the subtlety of Proust at the other…In his characters, whimsy and humor mingle with much darker intimations. Each song comes from a place so vividly evoked that it makes you want to go and live, not there, but rather more completely in your own life. “ (Foley Schuler)

“Hearing the songs of Michael Smith in this day and age is like reading an anthology of Hemingway’s short stories after decades of only comic books. It’s a realization that songs can hold a whole lot more than they’re usually expected to hold, they can possess a genuine sense of place and time as evocative and magical as the finest literature.” (Paul Zollo)

Michael Smith, the lyricist, composer and performer of renown, is a voracious reader and never at a loss for material. As early as age 16, when he set the words that appeared on the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, Michael was adapting and setting literature, children’s stories, and poetry to music.

Michael’s songs set poems by F. Garcia Lorca (Five in the Afternoon), Wallace Stevens (Blue Guitar), Chilean poets Gabriela Mistral (Swallow) and Pablo Neruda, as well as Irish poetry (Songs of the Kerry Madwoman), set in a chamber opera, with poems by Patricia Monaghan, and Chinese Tang Dynasty poets (Painted Horse). Passages from Robert Cole’s “The Spiritual Lives of Children” were transformed in We Become Birds. The words of essayist Ann Carson appear in a surprising way in Michael’s song Seurat.  Michael’s original work was featured at the Poetry Foundation: And the Poet Sang”, (2013) with Jamie O’Reilly and Peter Swenson, and in Brecht’s Letters with Steppenwolf’s Martha Lavey (2014).  He is currently presenting songs inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick, with the celebrated Blair Thomas & Co.  (see more below).

Everyone’s a giant when you’re a little kid
Everyone’s a giant but you
(Selfish Giant, now at CDBaby.com)

Composer – Michael in the theater and on the road

Michael is the 2010 recipient of the prestigious
Hans Christian Andersen Award for his adaption of
The Snow Queen, for which he also wrote the musical score.

Michael Peter Smith has been singing, writing and touring in North America for over five decades.  This self-taught musician is an award-winning composer and contributes original scores to the finest theaters in United States. He is a regular at music festivals from Kerrville, Texas to St. Augustine, Florida’s Gamble Rogers Music Festival,  to Illinois’ own Fox Valley Folk Festival, Evanston First Night.  He is heard at libraries throughout Illinois: Alton, Glenview, Lisle and Oak Park. Summer of 2015 he toured libraries on Rhode Island.
In 2012, Michael appeared as Captain Pedersen in Lookingglass Theatre’s musical play Eastland, in Chicago.
His songs were featured in four Chicago Humanities Festivals.  He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Woodstock Folk Festival in 2009. Recent host-venues  include the The Museum of Contemporary Art, DePaul Humanities Center, Logan Center for the Arts, Lookingglass Theater at Waterworks, Old Town School of Folk Music, Irish American Heritage Center, Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall, Chicago History Museum, NU Thorne Auditorium and more.  Michael and celebrated puppeteer Blair Thomas collaborated on The Snow Queen for Victory Gardens, winner of Denmark’s prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. Their touring production of  Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant was a highlight in  the Chicago International Puppet Festival.  He contributed music to Edward Gorey’s The Vinegar Works for Loyola University Museum of Art.
Moby Dick at the MCA

Moby Dick at the MCA

Blair Thomas & Co’s, current project, Moby-Dick, was seen at the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, features Michael’s original compositions. He is recording those songs and more for a Moby Dick album, due out summer of 2016.

Michael’s extensive catalog of compositions includes critically acclaimed theatrical scores, recordings, and award-winning productions. He wrote the music for the 1990 Tony Award–winning Steppenwolf production The Grapes of Wrath (1990). Michael Margaret Pat & Kate (1994) at Victory Gardens Theatre earned him four Joseph Jefferson Citations, including Best Original Music.  His collaboration with Jamie O’Reilly resulted in Pasiones: Songs Of The Spanish Civil War (1997) directed by Peter Glazer, at Chicago’s Theater on the Lake included with tours to the Tribeca Center for the Arts in New York City, Pabst Theater in Oakland, CA, Yale University and more.  Also for Victory Gardens, Michael composed the score for Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal (2000) with Jamie. Their production that received an After Dark Award for Best New Work.

Other original scores include The Gift of the Magi (2003) for Judith Svalander Dance Theatre at the Woodstock Opera House, and the chamber opera Songs of the Kerry Madwoman (2006) for the DePaul Humanities Center and The Heart Songs of Opal Whiteley with collaborator Anne Hills.  Michael was a featured artist/songwriter for the Poetry Foundation in And the Poet Sang (with Jamie O’Reilly,) and Brecht’s Love Poems (with Steppenwolf ensemble members Martha Lavey, Tim Hopper, and Jessica Anne Thebus).


“He’s our Picasso.” (Kathy Kelly, WNUR Folk Show)

“Amazing keynote address, songwriting talk and performances at FARM last weekend. I was moved to tears, enlightened and reinvigorated. Thank you.”  (Scott, fall 2011)

The songs of Michael Smith are published by Bird Avenue Publishing,
learn more here
. Contact Dolly Z dmzx333@gmail.com


“The thing that stands out most in Michael’s work is his unpredictable creativity just when you think you know where he’s going, lyrically or musically, he’ll turn a metaphoric corner on you, double back, sneak up behind you and slip a rainbow in your pocket.” (Hill Country House Concerts, Bulverde Texas)




“Michael P. Smith, Songwriter”

Listen to Michael
The_Dutchman_Kerrville, 07

-Interview with WGN Radio host Rick Kogan

-Buy downloads at CD Baby



MUSIC.  Now on CDBABY and iTunes!

Selfish Giant Cover (final)


“The Selfish Giant”
Singing and playing a variety of instruments, Smith performs a charming group of songs, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story. Written for a theatrical production created by puppeteer Blair Thomas. Pure joy!
Get it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michaelpsmith1







MAGIcover“The Gift of the Magi”
Digital Downloads at CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/msjo
“A veritable Christmas basket, overflowing with musical treats. Smith’s mahogany and O’Reilly’s pure crystal tones wash over the listener.” (London, Canada)



Michael’s solo CD
Old Man Dancing (on the blog

Original songs: Accokeek, Sure Has Grown, Ballad Of Dorian Gray, Roger Maris, Ballad Of Phil Spector

Five Stars. Maverick UK! 
Michael self-released a recording of the songs from “Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate,” produced by Hills, in 1994. The Wind River subsidiary of Folk Era Records made the album more widely available in February of 2000. The Wind River version included the previously unheard, doo-wop inspired, “Little Falls” – a tribute to the town where Michael spent his teen years and first performed in a band. The disc also featured an extended version of “Coffeehouse Days.” Apart from a few covers, including the Cole Porter standard “Begin The Beguine” and the traditional “Kilgarry Mountain,” Michael penned the remaining material which included spoken narratives. The upbeat “Belmar” recalls a childhood visit to the beach, “Looking For Maureen” is a tale of unrequited love, while “I Brought My Father With Me” remains one of the most touching songs in Smith’s oeuvre. On 1st January 2000, when we were able to assess the music of the century that had just passed, my rating was that “Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate” was, by clear miles, the finest album that had been made. I know that I am not alone in that opinion, and pray that one day the small crowd, that I am currently a member of, becomes a nation [and more]. Smith may be recalling events from his own life, but he does it with consummate honesty, in the process capturing the love, heartache, humour, humility, desperation and countless other emotions that constitute this human existence. As an entity, the album is the finest [musical] journey I have ever taken. I revisit it often.
(Arthur Wood, Maverick UK)


B & W photo  by Suzanne Plunkett

Center and right photos by Kevin Viol
Michael with a beret J. Friedrich
One Sheet – Main Royal Design